The Ultimate List of First Birthday Gift Ideas

I remember my kid’s first birthday like it was yesterday. 

I remember planning it meticulously, looking for DIY birthday theme inspirations, what food and activity to prepare, and such. 

And the toys. The glorious toys.

Ever since I became a mom, I get this high from scrutinizing and buying toys for my baby. 

I don’t consider myself a toy expert but I’d like to think I’m close to becoming one, based on the amount of time I’ve spent googling and researching about it.

So if you’re looking for the ultimate best first birthday gift ideas, look no further girlfriend. Or my man. 

Sit down, relax and keep scrolling to get educated. 😁

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How To Pick The Best First Birthday Gift

As a parent, the best first birthday gifts for me are:

Safe

Non-negotiable. Something that won’t choke them (they love to put things in their mouth), won’t poke them in the eye or hurt them badly even if they fall on it, etc.

Educational

I’d prefer something educational, that can engage my kid’s problem-solving skills and other skills.

Long-lasting

I’d want something that can’t easily be broken by my kid. Or something timeless so I can give/ donate or even sell it.

Engaging

I also hope it would be in line with my kid’s interest at the moment.

Open Ended

I prefer toys that can be played with in different ways but I’m also okay with a toy with an end purpose, especially if my kid requests for it. But honestly, I’d go with open-ended toys, they’re worth it.

Or practical

Something that my kid can use daily. 

Or ideally, all of the above.

However, if you’re not the parent and you’re reading this to get some awesome first birthday gift ideas for your grandkid/ niece/ nephew/ friend’s kids, I would advise asking the parents first what they want. 

If you’re not particularly close to them and you don’t know their struggles and needs, I highly advice to ask them first for the following reasons:

  • They might already have that toy you’re planning to get
  • They might want a toy but not the toy you want to buy 
  • They might not have the space for the toy you have in mind
  • They might need something functional, something that their kid can use every day, or something to make their lives easier 
  • They might not even want a toy for their kid!

Now that you know what type of toy or gift to get, it’s time to go shopping! 

Check out some of the best first birthday gift ideas below.

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The Best First Birthday Gift Ideas

Experience Gifts

Experience gifts are the best kind of gifts to give to a 1-year-old and their parents for the following reasons:

It provides a lot of learning and bonding opportunities. I’ve actually started giving this to my now 4 year old, as I just realized she has a ton of toys. And I’m so tired of cleaning them.

You can consider memberships or annual passes to zoos, children’s museums, aquariums, science centers, farm and garden, botanical garden, petting zoo, playgrounds, etc.

Or you can also go for classes – swimming classes, music, sports, etc.

Monthly Subscription Boxes

This is an awesome gift not just because it’s educational, but the experience and anticipation of receiving one every month will just fill your child with pure excitement!

Sure it’s a little pricey but if you want to splurge on your kid’s first-ever, not-going-to-happen-again birthday, then don’t feel guilty about it.

Check out these educational monthly subscriptions:

For more info on the Lovevery Play Kit and if it’s worth it, check out my review here.

Furniture

If you have the space and you need something functional, you can’t go wrong with furniture. 

Your kids can use it for a long time plus it looks so darn cute!

Tap or click to check out these adorable fixtures that your little ones will enjoy using for years to come:

• Table and Chair Set

• Teepee/ Tent

• Kids sofa 

• Imaginative Furniture Playset 

• Activity table

Rides

First birthdays are a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so you’re allowed to go all out when giving presents to your kid. 

And if you have the budget and the space and you want to blow your kid’s mind, give them a sweet, awesome ride! 

Someone gave my child a pushbike and she loved it so much, we used it almost every day!

Check out these stunning vehicles that your one-year-old will enjoy cruising in.

• Ride on Vehicle

• Balance Bike

• Electric Kids Ride-On Car

Check out my review of the best electric cars for kids here.

Books

I started reading books to my kid when she was 2 months old. 

I know that sounds crazy but I’m aware that getting them interested in reading books is a long game and I gotta start early if I want my daughter to become a big reader.

Now at 4 years old, she loves books. 

She would choose to read a book over a toy and would prefer to go to the library than the playground.

So if you want your kids to become bookworms, start them early.  Get them tons of age-appropriate books and read to them every day, even when they’re just newborns.

Check out these books or magazine subscriptions, as a first birthday gift for your little one. 

• Board books with textures

• Magazine Subscriptions

Developmental Toys

Of course, I also have a list of age-appropriate and developmental toys for a 1-year-old.

These toys can be primarily focused on enhancing your child’s gross motor or fine motor or cognitive skills. Or it can encourage them to explore their senses – touch, hearing, seeing, etc. 

Or they can be multipurpose, which is better.

Some of them can last for years and can even be used by younger siblings or can be sold for a decent price, such as wooden toys.

I remember giving my 1-year-old then this huge activity cube toy and she played with it for an hour or so. Enough time for me to do chores and even do some self-care activities.

Check out these child developmental toys that are fun and engaging for a one-year-old.

Toys For Developing Gross Motor Skills 

• Wagons

• Walker

• Play Tent and Tunnel with Ball Pit

• Triangle Set with Ramp

• Monkey Bars Tower

best first birthday gift for one year old

• Swings

• Balls

Toys For Improving Fine Motor Skills 

• Activity Cubes

best first birthday gifts

• Busy Boards

• Activity Toy Sets

Toys For Enhancing Cognitive Skills

• Puzzles

best first birthday gifts

• Cause and Effect Toys

• Nesting Toys

• Shape Sorters

Toys For Encouraging Imagination and Social Skills

• Roleplay toys

• Dolls and Plushies

Check out my review of non-toxic dolls here

• Blocks

• Wooden Toys

PlanToys Plan Preschool Number 1-10 Baby

• Play Sets

Toys for exploring their senses

• Arts and Crafts Toys

• Water Toys

• Sensory toys

• Musical toys

First Birthday Gift Ideas That Parents Will Love

For the most part, one-year-olds won’t care much if you give them a toy or about the quality and quantity of toys. 

You can give them a box or a spatula and they’ll be fine with it. They’ll find anything fascinating and engaging.

So it’s perfectly okay and reasonable even, to get something practical and useful or even fun, for the parents themselves or the whole family.

These gifts below are not really for the 1-year-old birthday celebrant but will indirectly benefit them, so check it out to give you a few ideas:

For Parents

• Experience cards

Yes, you can also give “experience gifts” to grown-ups!

New parents need a break so anything that will make them kid-free for a few hours will be appreciated.

It can be 4 hours of babysitting, taking the kids to the park for 2 hours, bringing them homemade meals, cleaning up their house, etc.

You can write your “gift” to them in these experience cards to give it that special flair.

• Gift cards

Popular ones are from Amazon, Walmart, Target or you can also get from other stores or a gift card subscription to services such as Audible, Spotify, etc.

• Event/ Activity Tickets

This could be a ticket to their favorite band, comedian, broadway show, art show, practically any event or activity that you know they’ll enjoy attending. Just to give a few hours of a breather from taking care of their kid/s.

• Photo-Related Gifts

You can pay for their family photo shoot, give them a photo album of extended family members or take a really nice picture of them and frame it.

• Contribution to kid’s college fund

You can talk it over with a few friends and come up with a small donation for their kid’s education fund. It doesn’t even necessarily need to be for college or for schooling. It can just be a financial gift that’s way more practical than a toy.

• Keepsake boxes and items

• Donation in Child’s Name

• Wine

Everyday Items

You can also give some everyday items that are practical and useful for kids, such as:

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Takeaway on First Birthday Gift Ideas

All of these first birthday gift ideas – the toys mostly – can work for both genders.

Personally, I don’t believe in gender bias toys – eg., trucks for boys, dolls for girls.

I find them very sexist and it limits the creative possibilities and opportunities for the kid. It’s like telling a girl she can’t become an engineer so she can’t play with legos and telling boys they can’t be fashion designers so quit playing with dolls and dresses.

Or something like that.

Another point I’d like to make is to don’t pressure yourself to buy the most expensive toy or gift. Especially if your budget is too tight.

Gift-giving is not a competition, plus, one-year-olds are pretty easy to please. Just like I said, give them a box and they’d be happy with it.

So don’t overthink it – just buy what you think is suitable for your or their kid OR your/ their family.

Happy shopping! 🙂